Colleen Thompson: Passionate and Relentless
Posted by Sarah Andre
Well, for me that author is romantic suspense writer, Colleen Thompson. She’s survived this crazy industry so long and experienced so many ups and downs in her career, yet manages to remain passionate about her writing and relentless to stay in the game and get her next story published!
Although she probably doesn’t know this, Colleen’s the first person I met after joining the West Houston chapter of RWA. I tend to be uber-neurotic going someplace new, so of course I was way too early and sat at a table by myself long enough to think that getting up and going home was a really great idea.
Then Colleen came in, smiled that big smile and asked if she could sit with me. She went out of her way to make me feel welcome and not the dumbest writer ever for not knowing lingo like ‘Series Contemporary.’
Even under tight deadlines Colleen attends chapter meetings, pinch-hits a topic if our scheduled speaker cancels, teaches online classes and can always be relied upon to generously give her time to authors in all stages of their careers. Oh, and she still manages to co-host a blog, update her status on Facebook with lightning speed and posts pictures of darling rescue dogs in need of adoption. Yeah, I want to be just like Colleen Thompson when I grow up!
Welcome Colleen! Who are your favorite romantic suspense authors?
I first fell in love with romantic suspense reading Nora Roberts, Tami Hoag, and Sharon Sala. I still love those authors and have also come to enjoy novels by Karen Rose and Allison Brennan.
I know for some of your books you’ve actually gone to the small town (for your setting) or done an activity. What was the most interesting thing you did in the name of research?
A few years ago, I went flying in gliders while researching Triple Exposure, whose heroine is a glider pilot. Then I spent a fun afternoon brainstorming with glider pilots about ways one might sabotage a sailplane (what they generally call gliders) to make it crash. Thankfully, they all got into the spirit of the thing rather than calling the FAA to report me!
More recently, I’ve spent time speaking with a forensic anthropologist about the life cycles of the various insects that feed on a decomposing human body.
…sorry to interrupt…but UGH! GROSS.
After reading and talking about it, I decided to forego the field trip—I could already imagine what it smelled like all too well. (I have what I call “smell-a-vision,” which makes me smell everything I read about or see on a TV or movie screen. This is awesome when I’m reading about blooming lilacs or baking bread. Not so much, when I’m researching decaying corpses. Gross!)
I would give serious consideration to some of the alternate routes available today.
Many mainline publishers are giving new authors the opportunity to break in to their electronic-only lines (and buying very few debut titles for their print-first lines.)
There are some very reputable smaller e-presses out there, too, some of which have been regularly putting their authors on bestseller lists. These don’t usually pay advances, but they give a writer experience in working with an editor and publicity team, and some authors are breaking out and into print or indy e-book success.
If I were writing something too different for the current market, I would also seriously consider indy publishing—but not until I had my work independently edited by a pro (not a friend or critique partner) and gotten myself a sharp, professional-looking cover. Then I’d spend six months to a year studying how to launch it right before diving in with self-publishing.
While your dream may have been to publish first with one of the big houses, don’t close your eyes to or be snobbish about other opportunities. With a lot of work, a lot of talent, and some good, old-fashioned luck, they really can work.
Tell us a little bit about Boxing the Octopus?
My good friend, New York Times bestselling author Joni Rodgers, and I met at a book signing and instantly bonded, after which we went out for coffee once every week or so.
She’s a memoirist, ghostwriter, and novelist, while I’m a mass market paperback original genre girl, so we’d had very different experiences, but each of us had respect for the other—and a lot of hard-earned respect for what it takes to stay in the game putting out books year after year.
During one of those talks, Joni compared grappling with the publishing biz to “boxing the octopus,” and I blurted, “That’s it! That’s our blog’s name!
In late 2006, we launched Boxing the Octopus, www.boxocto.com, to foster an ongoing conversation on the writing life. And I’m still not finished yakking!
Do you like movies that scare you or make you cry?
Ha! Seriously, I like scary books a lot better than scary movies, for some reason. I hate having stuff jump out at me onscreen, but I can read (and write) suspense all night.
While I don’t like emotionally manipulative tearjerkers, if they’re really honest and understated, they can be devastatingly beautiful. One favorite of mine is the Italian film, Life Is Beautiful. Set during the Holocaust, it features a loving father who convinces his little boy (to help him survive the concentration camp where they are taken) that the experience is all a game.
I laughed at the funny moments (believe it or not, there are quite a few) and cried my eyes out at the ending, but loved it enough to recommend it to all my friends and family members.
Oh my gosh! One of my top favorite movies (only the Italian version!)
You’re married to a true alpha-hero, Mike, a fireman. Does he get teased by his fellow firefighters given his wife is a romance writer?
Not that I know of, but since he’d just shrug it off if anyone made a dumb remark, I can’t say for certain. For the most part, his fellow firefighters have been awesome, buying copies for their wives and mothers and answering my research questions. One (actually an ambulance supervisor/EMT and not a suppression firefighter) took me for a ride-along one busy Friday night, where we visited the trauma center ER and scoped out all the dicey areas where I could never go on my own at 2am! I used a lot of that research in my book, Fade the Heat.
You used to write historical romance. (under the names Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton.) Why the change to Romantic Suspense?
I loved, and still love, American-set historicals set around true-life events and have recently been bringing some of these older books back (under my Gwyneth Atlee historical romance pseudonym) in e-book form.
Unfortunately, the market for these books contracted in the early 2000s sank, putting a lot of authors (and my then-editor) out of work. I was reading and enjoyed so much mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense at the time that I wanted to try my hand (after seven historicals, all of which included a lot of suspense elements) in this exciting new-to-me arena. I was instantly hooked—and found a more receptive home for my darker, grittier voice.
After Relentless Protector (Harlequin Intrigue) in September, I’ll be promoting Passion to Protect (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) which comes out in November. Meanwhile, my agents are shopping several new proposals, but nothing I can talk about at the moment, darn it!
OK, then on to my favorite topic…favorite food ever?
Snow crab legs with melted butter. But lumpy mashed potatoes, my favorite comfort food, runs a close second!
Mmm! I’m right there with you on the lumpy mashed potatoes. How can readers get a hold of your backlist, given that your prior publisher collapsed?
I’m very excited about a deal I’ve just signed with Amazon to bring back my nine single-title (full-length, as opposed to the briefer category books I enjoy writing for Harlequin) romantic suspense novels, which were in limbo with my former publisher’s (Dorchester’s) financial collapse. Already available in e-book form, the books will soon be out in paperback and hardcover formats. Readers have been asking for these books for two years, so this is terrific news!
That’s exceptionally good news and you REALLY deserve it, Colleen! Thank you so much for visiting us today. For more information on Colleen, please click here for her website: http://www.colleen-thompson.com/
Colleen will be answering questions today and is giving away a copy of her newest release “RELENTLESS PROTECTOR” to one lucky commenter. Stop back on Thursday to see if it’s YOU!
About Sarah AndreRomantic Suspense That Keeps You Up All Night! I live in sunny FL, love daydreaming, reading and chocolate. I write in the wee hours of the morning before my helpless hubby and 2 male Pomeranian pups awaken with their demands. :) My debut LOCKED, LOADED and LYING is available now.
Posted on September 18, 2012, in Author Interview, Sarah Andre and tagged Colleen Thompson, free book, giveaway, Harlequin, Kiss and Thrill blog, Passion to Protect, Relentless Protector, romantic suspense novels. Bookmark the permalink. 62 Comments.